California has introduced more than 50 Internet and computer bills this year and last week, four more were added to the list: one of these seeks to protect the under 18s from sexual abuse.
Steve Kuykendall, a Republican representative, launched the equivalent of a private members bill which won strong approval following reports about young people running away from home to meet adults they've communicated with on the web. It is now down to State Governer Pete Wilson to sign the bill into law which would make it a crime to use Email to sexually entice or arouse a person who is "known" to be under 18.
Freedom of speech advocates believe Kuykendall's efforts are little more than a vote-winning ploy, arguing that similar ammendments existed within the CDA. But Kuykendall says his draft is different to the CDA. In a press statement he said: "The Supreme Court decision doesn't affect what I intend to accomplish. Sex offenders need to be punished, and sex offenders who use the Internet to find their next victim are no different."
Yaman Akdeniz, chair of Cyber Rights and Cyber Liberties believes the move has not been given enough thought. He said: "Obviously the intent is good, but I wonder if Kuykendall has actually sat down to consider how to prove knowledge of someone's age." He added: "This is a perfect way to bring more litigation down around the Internet."
It would seem the Americans have a very peculiar way of making changes to the way the Internet is used. Slapping down some arbitrary rule that will no doubt, be flaunted by every school-going male in the State seems futile to say the least.
How are you going to know the age of someone if your only contact is by Email?
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